Taiwan envoy to Apec summit plays down disputes with China

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan's special envoy to the upcoming Apec summit in Beijing dismissed concerns on Monday about a recent series of disputes which has overshadowed improved ties with China.

Former vice president Vincent Siew, President Ma Ying-jeou's envoy to the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, said ties with the mainland are on the right track from a long-term perspective.

"There have been ups and downs regarding cross-strait ties over the past dozens of years. While there's no need to feel too contented when things go smoothly, there's also no need to feel frustrated if any upset erupts," he told a press conference.

"Generally speaking, ties between the two sides are peaceful and stable, they are not expected to be impacted negatively." The remarks came after the Global Times, a newspaper controlled by the Chinese communist party, recently accused Taiwanese intelligence authorities of trying to recruit Chinese students studying on the island to spy on the mainland.

Taiwan denied the allegations.

The Taipei-based United Daily News suggested last week the spying charges could be a reprisal for Taiwan's investigation in August into a former top Taiwanese official handling China policy, who is now accused of leaking state secrets.

Chang Hsien-yao, an ex-deputy minister at Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, stepped down in August over allegations he leaked confidential work-related information. The case is still under investigation, while he has denied the charges.

The News said Beijing was also unhappy after Ma twice publicly threw his weight behind Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters.

Siew said he would discuss trade issues with regional leaders at the summit and promote Taiwan's bid to join more regional trade blocs.

But he would not say what issues he may raise if he meets Chinese President Xi Jinping. Such a meeting has not been confirmed but has happened at past APEC summits.

Historically Taiwan's leaders are barred from Apec summits due to objections from China, which has claimed sovereignty over the island since their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

Taiwan is represented instead by senior economic advisers or business leaders.

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